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Protecting Our Investment…Securing Our Future

2014 Summer Construction Update

After the passing of the Sinking Fund in 2012, an advisory committee consisting of parents, staff, and community members worked together to determine a long range plan for facilities and infrastructure of Cedar Springs Public Schools by identifying the needs of the district.

Phase I took place last summer as we added additional parking spaces at the High School and rerouted the Student Pick-Up/Drop-off.  This summer Phase II will begin with the focus on Cedar Trails Elementary Improved Parking and Improved Pick-Up/Drop-Off.

A new staff parking lot will be created between Cedar Trails Elementary and Cedar View Elementary.  By doing this, the Cedar Trails parking lot in front of the building will be dedicated to parents and children.

There will be an improved dropp-off/pick-up area created.  A media island will serve as the main drop-off/pick-up area for parents.

There will be an illustration of the new and improved area on www.csredhawks.org once available.

Construction will begin in June after school has been dismissed for the summer.  The Cedar Trails Elementary building will not be accessible until the construction is complete.  The Campus Kids summer care program will be relocated to Beach Elementary.

The Approved Sinking Fund is the means by which the District can protect the community’s investment used by our students, staff, parents, and community.  We appreciate your support!

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Cedar Springs District Office at 616-696-1204.

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New high school parking lot

As I drove in to the newly repaved High School today, I felt so grateful for the generosity of our community in making this happen. The passage of the sinking fund in 2012 allowed this major improvement to become a reality. This summer, the school was able to use these dollars to resurface the high school gym as well as improve the overall flow of traffic at the high school. We were able to add more parking spaces and eliminate the potholes too numerous to count. Without the support of voters in passing the sinking fund, this would not be possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Brook Nichols, school board President


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Sinking Fund Update

The district sinking fund committee has been active since the passage by voters in February 2012.

The first funds will be available for spending on July 1st 2012.  The committee identified the following priorities for the 2012 – 13 school year:

1.  Identify a comprehensive plan to address the roads and parking needs across the main campus.

The committee identified URS Gremer to develop a long range plan that could be implemented in phases.

2.  Years one and two would focus on road needs at the High School and Cedar Trails.

3.  Designated funding over two years to provide wireless across to all classrooms in all buildings.

The committee will ensure that the long range planning and expenditures are available to the public on the district’s web site.


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Residents to vote on sinking fund millage

POTHOLE HEAVEN: Miles of roads on the Cedar Springs School campus are in dire need of repair. The district hopes that voters will pass a sinking fund millage to help pay for the costs.

By Judy Reed


When voters in the Cedar Springs Public School district head to the polls on February 28, there will be more choices than whom they want for president. They will also be voting on whether to allow the school to levy 1 mill to create a sinking fund to help renovate and repair school roads, buildings, and other items allowed under the law.

If passed, the owner of a home valued at $100,000 would pay about $50 a year toward the fund over a 10-year period. It’s estimated that the first year would bring in about $521,000.

“It must be used for capital improvements,” said Assistant Superintendent David Cairy. “It cannot be used on supplies or new equipment.” He said they have a 75-page document that is very specific about what the funds can be used for. Cairy said they would look first at what was deteriorating the most.

He said that milling and repaving roads would be a top priority, given the age and the rate at which they are deteriorating. They have been doing small sections at a time and patching where needed, but major work needs to be done. “If we keep putting it off, we’d have to make a larger investment later,” he explained.

Hundreds of vehicles drive over the campus everyday, including buses, school vans, staff, student and parent vehicles. “It’s especially more worn where the buses are grinding over the road four times a day,” noted Cairy.

The cost to mill and repave, do curb and gutter work, and sub-pavement aggregate work is estimated to cost somewhere between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000, which would eat up a big portion of the maintenance budget. The current school budget for maintenance is $2 million.

Second on their priority list is parking expansion at Cedar Trails Elementary, Beach Elementary and the High School, with improved pick up and drop off, which could cost $235,000 to $450,000. Other items on the list put together by a community advisory committee include security modifications, technology infrastructure, and replacement of aged gym floors at Beach and Cedar View.

Cedar Springs, like many in Michigan, has been battling increasing costs and shrinking revenue from the state, forcing millions of dollars in cuts over the last few years. And while it is still early in the state budget process, Cairy estimated that according to the Governor’s plan, they might see $500,000 less in revenue than last year. And that doesn’t take into account increased expenditures.

Cairy noted that the great thing about the sinking fund is that it will be carefully scrutinized and audited, and that every dollar that comes in can be spent on their needs. “It meets our goal of not incurring any debt,” he said.

And what if the millage doesn’t pass? “Things will get reallocated, or we may have to take money out of the fund balance. But we have done cold-patching on the roads as long as we can.”


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Skinner Field: should it be improved?

OUT OF THE RUNNING—The rubberized track at Skinner Field, once state of the art, is showing some age. The question is, who has the money to repair it?

By Judy Reed


When SSGT Charles Towns comes home to Cedar Springs from Georgia, he runs on the track at Skinner Field—and wonders what will become of it. He was recently upset to hear that the school was seeking a sinking fund millage for school repairs, and there was no mention of repairs for the track at Skinner Field. “I just want to know what their plan for Skinner is,” he said in an email to the Post.

On Friday, July 6, 1948, the Village of Cedar Springs paid tribute to Bert Skinner, a leading citizen and businessman. Part of the tribute was the dedication of Cedar Springs Public School’s lighted athletic field, on the west side of Morley Park. In 1991, a gift was given to the school district, to construct a running track at the field. An agreement signed by both the school and city made it available for both school athletic events and the community to run on. It was created partly on school property and partly on city property, with the school district responsible for maintenance for a period of 99 years, or until they relocated the field and running track.

PEELING PAINT—The school district only has the budget to do basic maintenance at Skinner Field.

That happened in the mid-2000s, when Red Hawk Stadium was approved by the voters as part of a bond issue. Most school athletic events are now held at Red Hawk Stadium, although the middle school still uses the track at Skinner, as do members of the general public.  Red Hawk stadium is not open for the public to run on. Other groups also use Skinner Field, such as Rocket football and semi pro teams.

In 2007, the school transferred the last parcel they owned at Skinner Field to the city of Cedar Springs, but the school has continued to do maintenance on the field, such as mowing, trimming, picking up trash, maintaining the turf, watering, and paying the water bill. According to Asst. Superintendent David Cairy, they spend about $10,000 to $15,000 per year on Skinner Field.

Neither the city nor the school system, both with shrinking revenues, currently has money budgeted for repairs at Skinner Field. Under the terms of the contract, the school could remove the improvements if the cost to repair exceeded the cost of removal. The visiting side bleachers were removed due to safety issues several years ago.

“As a voter I would go with a compromise that would allow them to save up for several years. I do not want to sink the school district, but if their plan for Skinner is not to even be concerned, and just let it fall apart, while they maintain Red Hawk Stadium, I find that unacceptable. The whole community uses that track, and they promised to maintain it,” said Towns.

Cairy said that repair of a track is allowable under a sinking fund millage, but they need to look at what their most urgent needs are. He noted that repair of the track could cost as high as $20,000.

Emails by Towns to both the school and the city has gotten the two entities to begin discussing what the future of Skinner Field might be. “In the past 10 years we’ve worked pretty closely together, and share many of the same goals,” said Cairy.

The two groups plan to meet in the near future to discuss the issue.

Do you use the track at Skinner Field? Email us and let us know what you think of the issue at news@cedarspringspost.com.


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Incumbents hold on to seats; millage fails

Cedar Springs Public Schools Board President Joe Marckini and trustee Jeff Gust held on to their seats in Tuesday’s election, with challenger Misti Bowser coming in a close third. Gust received 868 votes (41 percent); Marckini received 671 (32 percent); and Bowser received 576 votes (27 percent).
The sinking fund millage for repairs was defeated with 684 NO votes to 629 YES votes—a difference of only 55 votes.
School officials say that they are looking at $2 million in cuts this next year, and that the passage of the millage would have helped keep cuts away from students. Superintendent Ron McDermed said that the vote puts them back at square one. “I think the advisory committee came up with as conservative of a plan as they could,” he said. “The question now is, how do we continue to maintain repairs while facing state cuts? They keep taking more and more away.”
McDermed explained that the board’s thinking in approving the proposal was “do we want to cut things for kids? The answer was no. But we’ll move forward now the best we can, and keep kids in focus as much as we can.”
He said that if the millage had been approved, they were looking at spending $500,000 a year on repairs and maintenance to infrastructure and roads. That money will now have to come out of the general fund. Cedar Springs is unique as school districts go, because they have miles of road through the campus, and don’t sit on a public street.
Noting the low turnout at the polls, McDermed said they need to have a conversation with the community about the proposal to see if this result is what they really wanted. “I’d like to listen to people who were opposed and find out what they have to say. If it looks like this result is definitely what the majority wishes, we’ll abide by what they decide.”
If it looks like the majority of people want the millage, but just didn’t turn out to vote or didn’t understand what they were voting on, or just plain didn’t know about it, there is the possibility it could be brought back to the ballot in November.

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Voters asked to approve sinking fund levy

When residents in the Cedar Springs Public Schools district go to the polls May 3, they will be asked to approve a one mill sinking fund levy to help fund maintenance and repairs on the school campus.
“There is no extra money in the general fund at this time,” said Board President Joe Marckini. “We’ve been putting things off, that’s why we are asking for a sinking fund.” He explained that with shrinking revenue, they follow board procedures and keep funds spent as close to the students as possible—which means cutting back in other areas, such as maintenance.
But with additional cuts and costs for schools this upcoming school year, they could be facing a $2.4 million deficit. And that could mean cutting education programs that affect kids.
A committee of parents, community members and staff began looking at the needs in October 2010, and brought the recommendation to ask for a sinking fund levy to help fund maintenance and operations early this year.
The levy, which would be for a period of 10 years, would cost a person with a $100,000 property value $50 per year. It saves taxpayers money over a general bond, which runs 30 years, because there are no interest payments or borrowing costs. “It’s not practical to extend a payment for repairs over 30 years when we’ll have to make repairs multiple times during that period,” noted Marckini. “This is a ‘pay as we go,’ which shows the transparency of the board.”
The sinking fund levy can only be used for infrastructure. While they are identifying the true needs in each building, some of the priorities are parking, roads, and student drop offs; safety and security needs; technology and energy upgrades; and replacement of the synthetic turf on the athletic field.
The board says they’ve worked hard to be good financial stewards, increasing their fund balance from 5.7 percent to 14.99 percent, which allows them to make payroll during the summer months without borrowing, before the state payments come in; and decreasing dollars spent on payroll from 85 percent to 75 percent. They said teachers, administrators and support staff have all taken freezes and benefit cuts to help support student needs.
The Board of Education will have a booth at Community Night tonight (Thursday) with information on the sinking fund. To print out a flier, click link: Sinking Fund Flyer

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Protecting Our Investment…Securing Our Future

The Cedar Springs Public Schools Board of Education is requesting a one (1) mill sinking fund levy for a period of ten (10) years at the May 3, 2011 election.
• One mill would cost a homeowner with a $100,000 property value fifty dollars per year, less than one dollar per week.
• A sinking fund is a “pay as you go plan” with no interest or finance charges incurred by taxpayers.
• Stagnant or declining state funding has forced budget cuts for the last six years.
• Additional cuts and increased costs from the State are currently proposed at 2.4 million for the 2011-12 school year. In order to continue to support our infrastructure needs without additional funding we will be forced to cut programs for kids.

The Board of Education has worked hard to be good financial stewards.

Since 2003, the Board of Education has increased the district fund balance from a low of 5.7 percent to a current level of 14.99 percent. This fund balance allows us

to meet July, August, and September payrolls without the need to borrow. The Board has also decreased the percent of dollars spent on payroll from 85% to 75%.

Teachers, administrators, and support staff have taken freezes and benefits cuts to support our student needs first.

The Sinking Fund is the means by which the District can protect the community’s investment used by our students, staff, parents, and community.

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